If Garrett Coleman has his way he will be bringing his high-flying Brooklyn-based dance company, Hammerstep, home to Pittsburgh. Co-director of Hammerstep, Coleman hopes to showcase his new production called Indigo Grey – an interactive fusion of live theater, film, video gaming and technology – here this summer.
The only thing stopping him is funding.
Right now, Coleman and fellow director and co-founder of Hammerstep Jason Oremus are rallying for financial support through a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000. With six days to go they’ve brought in $30,838 toward their goal.
“We’re looking for people who are philanthropically involved in the arts and interested in pushing the boundaries of the theater experience,” says Coleman who grew up in Friendship and O’Hara Township and graduated from Central Catholic High School.
Coleman and Oremus, who both toured with Irish dance company Riverdance, founded their progressive troupe in 2009 and made their official U.S. premier at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2011. The group gained national recognition with its 2013 appearance on America’s Got Talent.
With the majority of funding for Indigo Grey coming from Pittsburgh – perhaps due to a well-received Hammerstep performance here in November – Coleman says that plans to open the show in New York may change to Pittsburgh.
The perfect venue for a non-traditional, futuristic warehouse-set experience?
Coleman and Oremus are kicking around the old Iron City Brewing building in Lawrenceville, an abandoned steel mill along the Allegheny River or a facility in Braddock.
“We haven’t gotten that specific yet because we haven’t raised sufficient funds,” he says.
Still, a team of seasoned dancers, musicians, actors and technical producers have been pounding out their production for the past year. The show’s soundtrack was arranged by Grammy-nominated cellist Dave Eggar who has also worked with Beyoncé, Coldplay and more. Technical director Mario Beck, who has worked on international tours with Riverdance, Fuerza Bruta and Metallica, has created real-life digital landscapes.
With no backdrops and props, the show features five live musicians, two actors and 12 dancers who perform against animated projections that generate a sci-fi movie set effect. The dance style featured in Indigo Grey is a combination of high-stepping Irish, tap, hip hop, body percussion and even martial arts.
And there are even drones.
“The unique thing is the audience is the main protagonist. They choose the direction of how their experience unfolds against an underlying storyline,” says Coleman.
“The art scene in Pittsburgh is unique and vibrant. The fact that it’s a participatory production is really kind of new … it puts Pittsburgh on the map to have stuff like that here,” says Belle Moldovan, a local artist and teacher at the Ellis School in Shadyside who has supported the project locally since its inception.
Coleman says that if the Kickstarter campaign falls through, there are “a couple backup plans” for putting the finishing touches on their production.
“But this will draw leverage for our own production company,” he says, adding that without the funding it would “limit their creative freedom and be a much harder road.”